Sometimes you learn what success is by encountering failure. In fact, Sir James Dyson believes that you cannot be successful until you have gone through a few failures to steer you to the right track. This is something that he has learnt through his own experience in business.


He was born on May 2, 1947. He took on the arts in college, and it is here that he got to understand how engineering interacts with design. This piqued his interest, and it would later be instrumental in his innovations.

He invented the ball barrow which used a ball instead of a wheel. He was also involved in the design of the sea truck in 1970. While these received much publicity, they did not catapult his career much or earn him droves of money. Later on, he had an idea about creating a vacuum cleaner that would maintain suction as it cleaned.

This would render the replacement of dust bags obsolete. When he created the “G-Force” cleaner in 1983, no manufacturer or distributor would take on his product because the cyclonic separation would mean no need to replace the dust bags. He, therefore, opted to move the sell his product in Japan. From this sale, he got £2,000 and won the International Design Fair Prize in 1991.

The Big Break

Having learnt from this setback, Sir James Dyson then received a patent on the product in 1986 and proceeded to set up his own manufacturing company since no one would buy his idea. He then proceeded to start his own factory and research centre. After about ten years after he had come up with the idea, Sir James Dyson took on a different approach. He opted to run an advertisement on television.

The advertisement emphasised the fact that people did not need to replace dust bags anymore. That was his big break as it opened up the market to his product. The Dyson Dual Cyclone became one of the most sold vacuum cleaners manufactured in the U.K. By 2005 Sir James Dyson had captured a very significant fraction of the US vacuum cleaner market, outselling even those companies that had rejected his idea, all because the disposable market bag had been worth £100 million at the time.

Sir James Dyson has spearheaded many other developments in different areas, focusing on design. He is the pioneer of the robotic vacuum cleaner among other appliances. He also came up with the contra rotator washing machine which was later pulled out of the market.

These early failures provided an important learning opportunity for Dyson. It is these failures and setbacks that influence his school of thought. He says that through failure you can be able to learn valuable lessons through experience. This is a far cry for anyone who has only ever experienced success.

They cannot know the ups and downs that come with being in the thick of things. For a very long time, Dyson survived on his wife’s salary. She was a teacher, and therefore there wasn’t much to go by. It also took 12 trials and 5,126 iterations for him to finally get his big break.


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